tv Earth Focus LINKTV July 18, 2019 9:00am-9:31am PDT
we visit oil-rich communities in california's san joaquiuin vally and along alaska's arctic slope, where residents are asking tough questions about the consequences of fossil fuel extxtraction. it's bebeen the bedrock of ththr econonomic livelihoods foror des but is now fracturing communities and threatening the planet. [camera's shutter advancing]
announcer: "earth focus" is made possible in part by the orange county community foundation and the farvue foundation. congregation: ♪ ...oh, victory in jesus, my savior forever, he sought me and he bought me with his redeeming blood... ♪ man: it was only 59 years ago that alaska was ratified as a state in the united states of america, and many people involved did not consider much what the original owners of the land already had and wanted to keep. may god continue to bless the inupiaq people, may god continue to bless this land, may god continue to bless the sea from which cometh all of our abundance. and the church s said... congregation: amamen.
man: arctic slope regional corporation is a company that's tied to the land claims that we were able to achieve in the early days. so, let's go into our boardroom. we have our table here, which is made around the traditional skin boat that we use for whaling. it's a symbol of the principles that we've taken from whaling as far as the iimportance of w working togethr to achieve more for your people. the inupiaq people lived all across the arctic slope region of the statete of alaska, followining the migratation of e animals, but the whale was the center of our culture. you had yankee whaling introduced into our waters from about 1850. as we got into contact, of course, disease killed off a lot of our native people. yeah, it was bad. yeah, it was traumatic. we need to get t over it, we ned
to learn from it, grow out of it, and be able to succeed. oil was discovered in 1968 in our backyard--prudhoe babay. the e biggest oil discovery in north america. that was whererey mom grew up. you go there now, it's a whole oil industry complex. in the late eighties, the trans-alaska pipeline was pumping about 25% of america's energy needs. two million barrels a day. that has come down to basically around 500,000 barrels a day. and the demand across america continuing to rise, of course. when oil was discovered, the federal government had to settle the land claims. we didn't want it to be a welfare bill. we had to remind congress we're a proud people that are self-sustaining, self-reliant, and that we want to keep it that way.
so, they came up with ancsa, alaska native claim settlement act, which is pretty unique. our portion was 5 million acres of land to be selected, and $22 million to start t our businesses. trying to select those lands while e we werere being left ouf the m most highly potential are, that was the challenge. it was almost like we were set up to fail. but we didn't. i guess there was some concern, wondering what a few savage eskimos would do with millions of dollars, right? from the early days of right around '94, we were able to grow the company to about 225 million in
revenue. today, we're close to 3 billion in revenue. w we own two of the refineries here in alaska. we're into construction, government contracting. lately, we've been n expanding g in the lower 48 in ordefofor us to groow. we have a shareholder base of about 13,000, which is the inupiaq people of the arctic slope and their descendants. our shareholders receive probably about 5,000 a year. we didn't have r running water. we didn'n't have the clinics, the fire stations, the schools. responsible development. maximizing the benefits to our communities and our people had to be in place. president trump: it's one of the big finds in the world. oil and gagas. and as s soon as i heard tthat, i s said, "you know, i ie this anwr. t this is big stutuf. i love it." [crowd cheering]
so, it's great. man: kaktovik is one of 8 inupiaq villages on the north slope. it's a close-knit community. takes a lot of people working together to make sure that we have a successful whaling season and successful harvests. prior to the opening of the coastal plain of the arctic national wildlife refuge, any oil and gas development or exploration was not allowed. now that it has been opened, we justst want to make sure it's done e right. i was charged by kaktovik inupiaq corporation to take charge. lobbying for the opening
of the coastal plain of arctic national wildlife refuge. but we do have a number of folks who are opposed to it. woman: two years ago, city did a poll, and we were pretty much split in half. you'll have people that hate your guts because you're sayayig no. growing up, i wanted it, and then when i get to my age, i'm against it. the main concern is the animals, , where they live. we need the baseline study for that. rexford: when you're walking, just keep an extra eye out, or make sure there's no bears around. we share this special place with them. we get a lot of refuge visitors at the polar bear viewing, and the numbers have been increasing every year. man: i'm guiding to see polar bears, and i realize that the
polar bears are in abundance here on the shore because their habitat hahas gone away beecause the world has been burningng too much fossil fuel. it's--climate change is happening. man: well, this time of year, they should be out on the ice, eating seals. that ice is not there for them. i've seen them eating young caribou on the b beach. they're gonna have to learn to adapt, i guess. we have to learn to adapt, too. we gotta change. we have to change. rexford: folks tend to try to tie the climate change directly to the oil and gas industry. man: they say that because a lot of pepeople are polluting t ther hundreds of miles away from us. well, ice is not there no more. but we're the ones sitting in the front row. they're in back of the ice melting away.
patkota: we're seeing earlier thaws and we're seeing later freeze-ups. man: why is our land being eroded away? because there's no ice to stop the impact of the huge storms that come crashing ininto oulaland. burns: big chunks size of this building sometimes will have-- ground just break off. rexford: having it rain during the middle of the winter season. the caribou can't get through the ice to get to their food. folks were piling caribou carcasses by the hundreds. patkota: we're reminded by our elders that the same principless that we use in whaling, you apply that same principle in everything that you do. working together, whether it's business, government, our culture. these pieces of baleen on the higher wall here represents the 8 communities throughout the arctic slope. we formed what we call the voice
of the arctic inupiaq. it basically takes all the leadership from all the organizations across the slope tto go in one voice. thompson: asrc tries to present that they are the voice of the people, but they arere not. it s a for-profit corporation that is in joint venture with the oil industry at this moment. burns: on the western side, theey all want develoopment. they want it here in our land, because they want to preserve their own hunting grounds. we always like to represent ourself, but they represent us, but they d don't live here. all the oil companies, they say they need to drill in just this little area. but then, while they're doing that, they'll say, "oh, we need a permit for this one over here. we need a permit for that one over here." they're gonna spiderweb all over and look for that oil, and if
ththey find itit, they're gonna extract it. patkota: : wes inupiaq pepeople considered ourselves the first conservationists. but with the right balance, we believe it can be done in a way that it doesn't harm the migration of the caribou. burns: shell came in here. my question was, "if there's a earthquake,e, what is your eaearthquakplan?" the lady laughed at me, then rigight after they had that meeting, you had that big oil spill in the gulf of mexico. the whole community watch it. if they did that out here, we'd be screwed real bad. inglangasa: what are they gonna do if they have an oil spill? be oil everywhere. our fish, whales, seals. we won't be able to get our food. thompson: when they talk about developing the 1002, who's gonna
benefit? is there other oil available that's more easily accessible, and should we look intoto alternative clean energy? rexford: life is a lot easier nowadays than it was before any of the development occurred. we have some folks still alive who have gone through starvation. they do not want to see that ever occur again in our communities. these gravel roads, the power lines, the houses that are built. pretty much every infrastructure that you see here has come from taxing the oil industry. patkota: we're being asked to keep the oil in the ground in our backyard, sacrifice our economic opportunity, to save their world? never mind what it takes to run the schools, the power plants, the basic ininfrastructuture that we need. thompson: ultimately, it'llll probably be the e investors that look at it and say, "can n we me
money on it, or we make more money doing clean energy?" patkota: the environmentalists have tried to use local people, to split us apart. burns: the folks that are against development, the locals around here call them tree huggers and stuff. thompson: the people who are called tree huggers, i include myself in that. we have a care for the environment. you could ask local native politicians, is this compatible with your traditional beliefs, to put product into the atmosphere that's harmful to the animals or the people? rexford: we live here and wee have t to deal with h these isss that come b before us. we're stuck in the middle of two sides--oil and gas development and environmental protection. woman: a debate over the moral, cultural, and economic consequences of oil extraction is alsoso underway y in both arn and taftft, california, just a w hours north of los angeles.
[man sighs] man 2: mayor, pleasure to meet you again, sir. [man 1 lauaughs] long time no see. man 2: yeah, no kidding. man 1: grab a seat here. once again, welcome to the city of taft. glad to have you over here. if people truly understand what the petrochemical industry does, what petroleum does for them, day to day on every single day, it would just absolutely blow up some of the misconceptions. simply take a look around. if you're sitting in your living room and you're comfortable where you are, what are you wearing? are you wearing just wool and cotton? are you wearing polyesters and nylons and rayay? the oilil and gass industry y ae petrochchemical i industry creae so manany benefits, and all of
these things that impact quality of lilife are thihings that peoe are taking for grantnted. man 2: : they are e essentiallyy putting their heads in the sand and saying, "we're gonna drill, baby, drill until we can't drill no more, either by an act of god or because an act of government, and i think thahat's irresponsible. man 1: the quality of life in the united states of america, the state of california, the globe is going to be the marriage and the efficient use of all of our available technologies, but if we learn and we're open with each other as different industries, then we can benenefit across the boarar. anand that is how we alall will dedeliver the e best qualility e gegenerations s from now.. i was asked by some civic leaders if i would consider surveying the people of the city of taft, because inin governmen, wwe need business sensnse, and
here i am. i was electeted to office and i've been reelected 3 times. i i do this f for free. i refuse toto take any wages or any bebenefits, but i take a great deal of pride e in it and i raid my famimily in thisis communityy employees live in thiss community. i own a crane and trucking company, and i actually began my oil fieldld career as a roustabout, which is a very beginner in an oil field. bottom of the tototem pole. andi woworked my way up. taft a actually began as a whistlele-stop on a raiailroad, simply so that the railroad could deliver the consumable goods to help in the development of the burgeoning oil and gas industry, and many, many generations of people have grown up in the city of taft, not just working in the industry itself but support from the benefits of the i industry asas well. we are surrounded by tens of thousands of oil and gas wells.
we understand the benefits of the industry. we understand the strategic importance of the united states of america being energy-independent. we take great pride i in being a part of that. kern county at one point in time was s the largest oil ad gas prproducing cocounty in thte contitinental uninited stateses, the industry itself, that is who we are. that is the legacy of this s portion of san joaquin valley. man: arvin making a bit of history today, becoming one of the smallest cities to make their own local regulations for the oil and gas industry. woman: oil and gas has kept kern county moving for decades. now arvin residents are fed up and those in the industry feel unwelcomed. wednesday night, arvin city council unanimously voted in favor of restrictions on the oil and gas industry. those in support applauded. [cheering and applause]
man: yeah, so, it's a monumentous thing that we did. we passed thehe oil and gasas orordinance,e, and hopefully otr cities with that type of industry will follow, so, we're gonna b be talking today withthe neighbobors on nelslson court, d then tomomrow i'm gonnnna have a conversatation witith the mayorf taft about our twowo cities. see if we can find any common ground. my name is jose gurrola and i am tthe mayor of the city of arviv. we c can't t deny the fact tha living and being next to an oil and gas operatioions, that it emits emisissions, and that thoe emissisions can n cause harm t o healthth, and fossil fuel extraction and production and consumption is a big part of the pollution here in the valley and worldwide. agriculture is the base economy here in the city of arvin. now it's primarily a hispanic community. over 95%. it is a very young city. surprisingly, over 60% of the population is
underer the age of 30. and d so, when you look at my age andnd u look k at other young peoplple n thee city council, you realize that we're acactually verery representative of the city as a whohole. all riright. see u guys later. essentialally, what t the oil ad gas ordinance that we e adopted isis, it createtes setbtback, ad what that means i is no new oill develolopment can occur within 0 feet of sensitive uses--homes, schools, , parks, hosospitals. my position was not to stick it to oil workers or because i'm against the oil induststry. it's because e i want to prottt the h health and safety of my community. that's s why i supported t the ordininance, bee i believe that it's imperative that we take this action for the sake of our economy, for the sake of o our future. man: arvin is one step closer to imposing new regulations on oil and gas production in the city limits. this all comes after mayor jose gurrola visited the state capitol to tatalk about an ideaea of eliminatining oil anad gas altogether.
noerr: it hururts me to think tt ssomehow, someway, we hahave drn a linine in the s sand that says we'rere either g going to contie as a society based on renewable energy and ababandon all oil and gas s or we willll continue e wl and gas and d abandon the benefs ofof renewable. we'd truly y like to sit down ad speak with himim regarding his opinion,n, how he cacame by that opinion, but b by the sameme to, not just he but t everybody he representsts, everybody that elelected him and everybobody wo llives around him, stitill, evey daday, benefit from the e oil ad gas industry. gurrola: so, this is nelson court. my house is over there. alma's is over there. but over here, this is all nelson court. everybody on this side of the street was evacuated, and the oil operations thatat was the source of the g gas leak is this operation over here. you know, you have homes right here, and then you have within a
couple hundred feet, you u have oil operations. man: a monitor that we place here. it's been here for aboutut 8 months now, man.. so, it was s developed from the community perspective. and so, right away, you see the pump jack. just a lemon t throw's aw, literally, from the house, and thehen right behind [indidistinct] on this side is the tank. we've seen this tank in past years, you know, releasing vocs into the air. and so, we monitor--monitor r te 8 monitotors that we have herern arvin, and we--andnd the storyrs the s same. you k know, the background levels s in this community are sky-high. we see fence-line oil and gas operations like this around communities like this, you know, in small, rural communities, and so, this isis one of ththe g
issueues here in arvin. gurrola: what the e city and its residents here, what they're trtrulexperiencicing is-- is not the normal. . in fact, 's the exceptption, and i it's rery an injustice thatat they're havg toto suffer througugh these environonmental burdens, whether if it's s air qualility, water contamamination. noeoerr: i know that o opinionf the industry h has been shaped y the e fact that i've b been invd in i it for decades successfull, and i am still here and i am still heaealthy and my childrern and d my neighbors and my empployees are all stillll healy as well. so, decadeses of experience have s shaped my opinion. [indistinct chatter] hey, there, buddy. woman: hi, dave. noerr: nice to see everybody. i ssure am glad you u could take e out of your busy dayay to sit dn and talk about what's going on in th world. we have very common needs,
whether we live in the city of tataft or the city of ararvin or the e state or c california or anywherere else. how many peopoe here e have family members that have beeen involved in the industry for a a while? just about everybody. woman: they don't focus on the biggerer picture b behind the oil,l, and therere may be incidents where ththere's spills or firires, but ththat'ss not or goal. we're more e focused on te prosos than the cons. man: t there's always gonna be trade-offs, but oil is one of the most widely used fuels that wwe have outut there, anand it's really efficient for ourur community and e everywhere aroud the world that useses it. noerr:r: that's the realality o. thaat is a fact. qualitity of life is imporortano alll of us, and ignonorance is t an evil t thing. ignorance justt memeans peopople hav''t beenn exposed to the facacts. that's what dialogue is all about. it's not about throwing rocks or casting aspersioions upon o's credibibility. it's abouout a sharing of realalities.
oil will be a critical part of our qualitity of life for long after i'm dead and long after my children will be dead. we will find more of it, we'll do a better job of removing it, and we will utilize the benefits of it more efefficientlyy everery single day.. gurrola: arvin is full of humble, hard-working people, and it's truly a david a and goliath story y when we're talking a abt putting health andnd safety fift versus a legacy billioion-dollar inindustry t that's centerred rt here i in kern couounty. despipf ththat, we were able to o succe, and d e arvin ststory is not alon t there's communities upp and down ththe central lleyey tt theyey are suffering, and if we can succeed here inin kern coun, the number-two oil producing county in n the country, then other cities cacan go ahead and susucceed elsewheres wewell, and that the power trululy lies witn